Toxic caterpillars invade Hastings Old Town
There has been an outbreak of poisonous caterpillars in a public garden in Hastings Old Town.
The caterpillars of the Brown Tailed Moth have stinging hairs and if they come into contact with people can cause a painful rash.
There has been an outbreak of the caterpillars in Swan gardens, opposite St Clements Church, in the High Street.
Hastings Borough Council has put up a sign warning people of the danger.
The caterpillars and cocoons of the The Brown-tail should not be handled or disturbed. They have hairs that can cause skin reactions requiring medical treatment. Strong winds and any disturbance may cause hairs to become airborne.
The caterpillars are active between may and June, feeding on foliage. They then spin a cocoon and pupate. Adult moths emerge in July/August and mate.
These caterpillars are between 7mm and 38mm in length, dark brown in colour with a distinctive white line down each side. The whole body is covered in tufts of brown hairs and two distinct orange/red dots are noticeable on the caterpillars back towards the tail.
For asthmatics and hay fever sufferers, it is important that the hairs are not inhaled as these may cause breathing difficulties.
If you are affected, the rash will be similar to severe nettle rash. The discomfort should subside after a few hours. A warm bath, with the application of calamine lotion or antihistamine cream may ease the itching.
If any other symptoms are experienced or the irritation persists, medical advice should be sought without delay.